Evanston RoundTable

Good Sunday morning, Evanston.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 continues to see a drop in student enrollment. The January 2022 Opening of Schools Report shows 6,393 K-8 students enrolled in the 2021-22 school year, down 536 students from 6,929 in 2020-21. 

The district’s kindergarten enrollment held nearly steady this school year, but it has not made up any ground after falling dramatically in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.


One type of N95 respirator mask (CDC.gov photo)

Evanstonians have a chance to get some of the 400 million N95 masks being distributed by the federal government in the fight against COVID-19. Here’s where to find free N95 masks in Evanston.

COVID-19 update: 107 new cases in Evanston on Feb. 2 and 9,463 in the state. New cases in Evanston have dropped as the omicron surge appears to have peaked. Unfortunately, six Evanston residents died from COVID-19 in the last week.


By several measures, after students leave District 65’s Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Education Center for kindergarten, they seem to be at least on par with private-school peers in some areas, Sharon Sprague, Director of Early Childhood Programs, told the school board Jan. 31.

While academic scores decreased during the pandemic year, measures of social-emotional learning showed most students’ needs were being met.


In case you missed any of the most important news last week, here’s a roundup of the top stories from the RoundTable this past week.

City News

The Aux, to be a hub for Black-owned businesses. (Nia Architects rendering) Credit: Nia Architects rendering

Requests from The Aux and Northlight Theatre for big ARPA dollars will move to City Council. Evanston’s Economic Development Committee backed the two groups’ requests for a total of $3 million of the city’s federal American Recovery Plan Act funds.

Evanston Hospital, part of the NorthShore system. (Photo by Evan Girard) Credit: Evan Girard

Workforce program seeks to create pipeline between Evanston and NorthShore system jobs. NorthShore University HealthSystem currently has 1,300 job openings and hopes to interest Evanston students and young adults in health care careers. It also hopes for $200,000 from the city’s ARPA allocation.

Report on beach sexual harassment to be out this month, released to public, council member predicts. “This is going to be a thorough investigation, but I anticipate that by the end of this month, we will have something, and likely sooner,” said Sixth Ward Council member Tom Suffredin at a virtual town hall.

Mayor announces application process to fill Ninth Ward council seat. Applications are due Feb. 14 and Council member Cicely Fleming is set to leave office Feb. 15.

Previous firm in City Manager search didn’t meet expectations, council member says. The Mayor and City Council ended up doing most of the work in the unsuccessful effort, said Council member Jonathan Nieuwsma at a Fourth Ward meeting.

Family Focus building (RoundTable file photo)

Family Focus, based in old Fifth Ward school, looks to grow. The social service organization offer more services. Millions of dollars may be available from the city to help, Council member Bobby Burns said.

Reparations and its allies. In the latest installment of our “People You Should Know” video series, Pastor Michael Nabors interviews Robin Rue Simmons and Chuck Lewis.

Doreen Price stands outside her home. (Bob Seidenberg photo)

City withdraws from homeowner enforcement case that brought criticism from activists. The City of Evanston on Jan. 28 officially withdrew as plaintiff in a longstanding property enforcement complaint case against a north Evanston homeowner.


Schools

Snack Shack at Park School is open for business. (Photo: Jennifer Flaxman)

Park School teachers encourage students’ unique abilities. Park School is a public therapeutic learning environment for students with disabilities, where resourceful, creative teachers work with and support 61 students ages three to 22.

ETHS hires consulting firm to conduct security review. In the wake of a gun-threat lockdown, District 202 announced a new partnership with consulting firm Facility Engineering Associates to conduct a full security assessment of the building and its facilities.

District 65 mistakenly failed to deduct taxes from new employees’ paychecks. From September through December of 2021, District 65 did not withhold the correct amount of federal taxes from the paychecks of 33 newly hired teachers, raising legal concerns.


Art & Life

Artist Jevoid Simmons. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

‘Art is how we have always moved people.’ Jevoid Simmons’ art can be seen at four places this month, including CoCo Design & Build Company and the Noyes Second Floor Art Gallery.

Vinic Wine Shop. (Photo credit: Martha Williams)

Vinic Wine to close its doors. After 13 years in downtown Evanston, Vinic Wine will be closing this spring. Owner Sandeep Ghaey said given COVID-19, competition and the supply chain, things were too uncertain.

Elephant + vine Southwest Wrap (Photo by Kailley Lindman Federighi)

Vegan restaurant to open in Evanston. CD Young, owner of Spirit Elephant, the all-vegan restaurant in Winnetka, is expanding with a fast-casual concept, elephant + vine, on Church Street.

A double exposure of the Inclusiva sculpture. (Photo by Joerg Metzner)

Picturing Evanston. The Inclusiva sculpture by Blessing Hancock illuminates the entrance at the Robert Crown Community Center.

Fleetwood-Jourdain presents four-part broadcast series titled ‘Black Women in American History.’ Tune in every Tuesday at noon.

Rank and File | ETHS chess team advances to state finals. The Wildkits defeated Whitney Young, current state champion, for the second time this season. Now ETHS will play in Peoria at the finals.

Sledders on all three hills at James Park.

The Lighthouse Keeper sees … that the city’s rules related to outdoor sledding and ice skating are confusing, to say the least.

The 2019 “Caravans of Gold” exhibition is seen during installation.

A look beyond the frames. Kristina Bottomley, a Block Museum staff member, shares behind-the-scenes insights about what goes into mounting a major exhibit.

(Photo credit: Tom Corcoran)

The week in photos: Jan. 24 – Jan. 31. Despite subzero temperatures, a cold weather advisory and up to 10 inches of snowfall, residents headed outdoors to explore snowy Evanston.

CloseKnit in Evanston. (Photo via CloseKnit Facebook)

CloseKnit to close its doors. After 20 years and two different owners, CloseKnit Yarn Store, tucked away on Orrington Avenue, is closing. Owner Lucie Sinkler said she had to make a hard decision.


Public Square

Nancy E. Anderson: Why Instagram makes me think about moving. “Cheap Old Houses” is an Instagram account showcasing interesting old homes for sale, usually priced under $100,000. I’m addicted to the Instagram posts.

(RoundTable file photo by Sam Stroozas) Credit: Sam Stroozas

Letter to the editor: Why we need to protect Roe now more than ever. When I was a 15-year-old girl living in Massachusetts, I found myself pregnant and I was unable to turn to either of my parents for guidance.

Peggy Tarr: Always. May and Joe were a Black couple who had married in their late teens and retired when they were in their 60s. They loved “Always,” the classic song by Irving Berlin.


Sports

Evanston’s David Gieser, in white. (Photo credit: Ann Tarpey)

ETHS boys basketball: Rivalry at its best as Kits topple No. 2 ranked New Trier. About 3,000 spectators watched the E-Town Showdown event Friday at Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena.

ETHS girls basketball: Gentle’s touch helps Kits down New Trier. Ciara Gentle came alive Friday at the Bost Family Classic game, leading the Wildkits to victory in the first game of the doubleheader.


ETHS wrestling: Terrizzi claims regional mat championship. In the past 20 years only a handful of Evanston wrestlers have won IHSA regional tournament championships as sophomores.

ETHS boys bowling: Wildkits fall short in state preliminaries. But that was just the final chapter of an epic season.

ETHS boys basketball: Historic win vs. Maine South. The Wildkits turned the tables on the Hawks with a 40-point Senior Night romp.

ETHS girls basketball: Wildkits state their case for top four sectional seed. Evanston crushed the Maine West Warriors 66-33.

ETHS boys basketball: Offense sputters again in shootout loss to Lake Forest. A subpar offensive showing hurt Evanston.


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Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...